Acknowledge sin, acknowledge Christ

Every gardener  knows that in order for something to grow upward it must first grow downward.  A healthy plant or tree must have a  deep  root system in order to be healthy enough to grow strong and produce fruit.

What is true of physical living things is  also true of spiritually living people. It is no accident that God created our environment to instruct us about how life works.

To plant properly you must dig deep, and  break up the ground so that the seed which is planted can grow deep roots. If you dig too shallow, the roots, when they grow will stop growing where they meet the hard layer and the root system will be hindered.

But the planting area must also be free of competing vegetation because competing vegetation or weeds will choke out the tender plant by sapping its nutrients and will also block its access to sunshine.

This applies to our Spiritual lives as well and we have a strong  directive from God in the O.T as to its spiritual application.

Jeremiah 4:3 NLT

“This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.

And from the New Testament we have a directive as well in the parable of the sower. In Matthew 13 Jesus begins by saying that some seed is stolen away and never germinates at all. (The Unbeliever) .

But even of the soil that received, Jesus  says to us  that the soil with no depth prevents the seedling from taking proper root and the plant dies. Thorns (uncleared ground) also choke out the seed.

So Spiritually speaking we are to be weed free and to go deep.

I think J.I Packer captures the essence of the situation in His statement,

“He that has learned to feel his sin, and to trust Christ as Savior, has learned the two hardest and greatest lessons in Christianity.”  J.I. Packer.

To  “feel our sin,”  is to throw the spade in the ground of our hearts “Hard Places”, and turn it over. It is a kind of violence really, just like breaking up tough ground, but oh so necessary.

This is the preparation for root growth. The spade must penetrate. As Dr. Packer says, its a “hard lesson”.

This activity of “feeling our sin”  is a means to an end… that we might grow upward and our upward growth happens when we see, that as bad as we are , Christ is a more than adequate Savior for us.

  But we must trust Him.

In trowing in the spade and  “feeling our sin” ,we will discover our inner motives that lead us into sin and be shocked, appalled, dismayed and depressed.  (I hope you read the puritans Like John Owen, Richard Baxter and John Bunyan)

But as we look to and trust in  our Savior, Jesus Christ, despite our knowledge of our own sinfulness, we find that in Him we are made alive, forgiven, loved and cleansed, we are given gifts and made to produce fruit.

Fresh righteousness  will appear on our branches and others will want to know our forgiving empowering Savior too!

Now let us keep growing and go and make disciples who will do the same.

 

Unleavened bread, a picture of authenticity.

When we think of a relationship with God we intuitively know that we must always be real with him.

After all, God knows the heart. ‘Nothing is hidden from His sight”.  A person in true prayer before God comes quickly to recognize that there is no choice but to  be open and sincere, to be “unleavened”

We also have a wonderful promise of assurance that as we do come to Him, even to confess our many faults,—as David well knew ,— God will not reject us.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;   A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17

This of course is a principle of an Eternal Kingdom, where God ,…

“…who was and is and is to come”,      reigns now both in heaven and the hearts of His own children.

Yet, how difficult it is to be real in “This present  earthly world or kingdom”!!!

It is not a part of the value system of this” present earthly  kingdom” where God is ignored, denied, and where men  hide from, and even  hate God.

As a principle, “authenticity” may be given lip service and may even be applauded to a certain degree in this world. ( Of course all within respectable bounds). Never to acknowledge ones full spiritual poverty.  “Lets Just all agree that were OK and just need to “self improve”.

Personal reputation or the keeping up of false appearances will be the undoing of us if we try to hold on to it.  Holding on to this just shows that the “fear of man” (what people think of us) is more important than “The fear of God”.

Being completely unleavened is a work that only the Holy Spirit can perform in the heart.

As John the Baptist stood crying out on the shores of the Jordan, “Repent and be baptized” , it was those who knew themselves to be “Poor in spirit” and who desired above all else to be right with God who were drawn toward God ,  it was those ones who could  …step out from the crowd …and  identify themselves before their peers as needing God more than a reputation before man.  There stepping out  was not out of an abundance of personal virtue but out of a lack of it.   They chose to identify with God even though they would forever be self identified sinners in need of rescue.

And the really amazing thing is, that Jesus himself  at the very beginning of His ministry, stepped into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John!!

Why?!!!        I mean even John Knew that Jesus had no need to repent of sin. John almost refused to do it,  stating  to Jesus. “It is I who NEED be baptized by you and yet you come to me?”

Jesus stepped into those waters because He came to identify with “Sinners”.

Why?        Because Jesus would take upon Himself the very sins of those whom He came to save.

This is basic Christianity; Basic Gospel.  Lose this and there is no Gospel to tell.

Jesus is “The bread of Life”. The true and perfect unleavened —“bread of Life ,“who came down from heaven.

The way to God is through the “unleavened way”.  Coming as sinner to God through Christ, who identifies with sinners who are willing to let their knowledge of spiritual poverty drive them to Him.

The Law of God against sinners stands.  Yet as the Apostle Paul proclaims, “Christ is the end of the law for all who believe”, because Christ fulfills the law for us.

In the end, when this present  life is slipping away— and it will— our reputation before men will be a hollow comfort, even a torture to us, if we have not allowed the ultimate reality of the kingdom of God to supersede this temporary reality so that we act according to “Ultimate Reality” .

We see this if we follow the logic of Jesus, speaking of the “leavened” pharisees who stood upon their own righteousness and reputation before men, ” I tell you the truth they have already have their reward in full”.  Jesus said such are excluded from the Kingdom of God because they refuse to enter into it.

But to have God Himself, and the knowledge of His forgiveness and Love , because we have settled the issue through relationship to Christ while we could, will be more than a comfort at death.

It will be the entrance of eternal Joy, to a degree that as we slip away into Gods eternal presence, we will know the full, undiluted, unleavened joy of perfect fellowship through the eternal ages!!!   It is those who are”in Christ” that will enter.

That day will  most certainly come to all and the eternal realities will roll back every covering anyway so why not come and stand in the light of Christ as a trophy of God’s grace while we live?  Now is the time to be unleavened the cost will seem like nothing compared to what we gain in Christ!!

As John Newton , the author of Amazing Grace so famously said ,

“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

Oh Lord, forgive, love, cleanse, guide and transform us as we look to you in unleavened honesty may we have no less than all you offer in Christ. Amen.

Sin is never general but specific.

I often wonder what it would have been like to be one of Jesus first disciples. I mean what was it like to have no place to stay, to be simply following Jesus along the dusty roads. To see a person who “did not sin”,To hear the sound of his voice, to see people physically healed, delivered from demonic oppression and see marginalized people treated with genuine Godly love and concern.
But of all the things that I wonder about, I wonder most of all what it would have been like after the crowds left, and Jesus and his disciples sat huddled around a fire sharing food and just talking together.
More specifically these men were in the presence of a person who knew them better than they knew themselves.
They had often witnessed Jesus “knowing what people thought” He often confronted people at the level of what they thought not what they said. the disciples would surely have been aware that he could read their thoughts too.
We all have very specific struggles with sin, envy, lust, pride, gossip unbelief etc.
I wonder what it would be like to open up in one of those conversations around the firelight with Jesus about those struggles. You could never do it without being specific. He knows everything and it would be pretty useless to hold back.

But it would be pretty difficult at the same time. Jesus himself was without sin. He could however be trusted to deal with the heart of sinners.
When I think of this I remember that I actually can open up to Him. I can do it anytime because He yet lives and I do.
Whether it is the sin of Lust (like Pornography which I have had to deal with and still watch out for in my own life) or it is gossip, (which may be your treasured sin). If you are a Christian Jesus will confront, challenge and forgive you as long as you keep close and learn to trust Him as the savior that He is.

I am a sinner and I know it. He died for sinners to take away our guilt and rose again to restore us continually to God. Get real….we all need to get real.

Is Jesus a friend of yours?

Jesus Christ, in the Gospels is shown to be a divine/ human person that unsettled others.

On the one hand He himself was a person who could never be accused of sin. By sin I am referring to a breach of any of God’s laws either in action, motive or thought. He was not like other men, ( not like us). Yet He purposely disassociated with the religious elite, the upper crust of Judaism the honoured, the self righteous. Those who looked good.

     On the other hand Jesus spent His time, energy and compassion on those who were obviously sinners; people whose sins were easily seen. People who in all actuality are like you and I. He was continually with drunks, prostitutes, swindlers, the dishonoured, the unrighteous. He befriended them and even ate in their homes eating what they prepared for Him.

  All mankind are sinners to be sure but it is the sinner who knows himself to be a sinner that is closest to the heart of God. It is he who is able to enter through the narrow gate and find the embrace of Christ.

   A dynamic that I have come across in my Christian experience is that often in the church (Which belongs to Christ) or just among other Christians we acknowledge sin as a general reality and that Christ forgives us our sins, and there it is, a sort of confession without actually confessing to anything in particular.

  But let us ask ourselves the question, “Was our last sinful action, whether a breach of Gods law in action, motive or thought some kind of hazy general thing or a specific thing?” Of course it was a specific breach a nameable offence an actual sin. Lying, coveting, lust etc. are not general but specific.

   So I pray, “ Lord help us to be real, to be honest to be broken but to have you as our Lord, savior and friend, save us Oh Lord from ourselves help us to love and uphold each other as redeemed sinners”

So what happens if a person opens the door to his or her offence?

What should happen?

There religious elite of Jesus day had within them a steadfast refusal to actually be broken. It was undignified, it was beneath the status that they loved so much. Are we like them?

Think about it….. are we like them?

   Are we so afraid if being real, of being broken? We must be ware that we don’t become like them because we will not prosper in our relationship with God if we do. We will become isolated, we will become critical and hardened.

   It was the unbroken Pharisee who would accuse Jesus of being a “ friend of sinners”. A title that fits Him perfectly!!!!

  He is my friend I hope and pray He is yours too. I am on a quest in my Christian life to seek out those like me, “actual sinners who need actual salvation” and to be open with them. He has of late been answering that prayer.